Monday, March 19, 2007

We gathered together....

So, every time I immerse myself in these types of God things I get overwhelmed. Emotional. I get unsettled. I can't put my finger on why. I see the greatness. The bigness. I feel God working in me - but I can't see where I'm going. I just returned from the Emerging Women Midwest Gathering. And before I say anything else, let me say that Julie did an excellent job planning and running this gathering.

I must say there were things that surprised me. I guess I was expecting an encounter with other women that reflected the emerging woman I am familiar with. Instead, I found those I resonated with, and those I didn't. And when I didn't it was a definite didn't.

I came home feeling like I needed to be debriefed. To vent, talk, sort things out, share - just express the myriad of emotions from the weekend. But I was (and still am) so dead tired... So, so tired. I wanted to call my friend, but I just couldn't pick up the phone. I had been around too many people, and heard too many stories and ideas, and too much crap, truth be told. And felt tension, cliques, superiority and lack of respect. I also felt humility, acceptance, a willingness to learn and friendship. I am frustrated, confused, exhausted, happy, connected, disconnected, and overwhelmed. It's hard to provide support and do your best to give answers as to why others have hurt someone, or been defensive and unaccepting when you are part of the group at large associated with the hurt, yet you don't understand why it happened at all or have the answers to heal the hurt.. It's hard to be encouraging when others are being "inciteful" and arrogant. It's encouraging to talk and have others listen. It's helpful to realize just where you are on the journey - which happens when you began to explain to another just what this journey is about and why you are there. It's exciting to become more confident in your beliefs and understand those beliefs more fully as you answer the hard "but what about?", "what do they mean?," or "how does this play out?" questions. It's painful to stretch beyond your boundaries, to grow bigger and more responsible as you more fully grow in (and more fully own) your beliefs. It's hard to disagree with a dogmatic person and not feel wounded, judged or hurt. It's disappointing to have dreams shattered, to realize your expectations were way off base. It's hard to see people that should be leaders acting like children who won't play nice. It's maddening that people can't follow a simple instruction, or be alone or quiet for one hour. One hour. It's aggravating to be woken up by a theological debate where people are using outside voices at 6:30 in the morning in the sleeping area instead of respecting the quiet. The debate wasn't bad - I rather enjoyed it. It was just the timing. It was restful to discover centering prayer, and amazing to feel the spirit descend on your heart and soul; and to feel your mind become quiet and peaceful to the point of not feeling the pain of a hard chair, or seeing the movie screen of pictures dancing behind your closed eyes. It was wonderful to work together, experiencing grace, sacrifice, co-operation and helpfulness as we cleaned up, yet sad to see the selfishness, lack of consideration and expectations of some as we cleaned up after them. It was joyous to play with Emma and way too quiet after she left. It was fun to watch Mike in a room full of women, not sure whether to interact or remain apart. It was wonderful to make new friends, and hear the stories they had to tell about their journeys. It was encouraging to note the myriad of ages - and realize there is room for all. To just know that there are others who have struggled just as long as I have - and had the same experiences. It was gratifying to be able to help some people with technical stuff - and actually have an answer. It was frustrating not to be asked to help with a situation I could have found alternative solutions for or helped fix had I known about it in advance. It was satisfying and delightful helping Char set up her labyrinth space, even when things went wrong, and very satisfying to work together to find solutions. I also missed my friend, terribly. I would loved to have had her there to bounce stuff off of, or walk the labyrinth with, or just share my heart with in the quiet moments..........

All of this to say - it was a wonderful weekend. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I went, even if it wasn't exactly as I envisioned it. And I can't say it was relaxing, because of all the emotions and feelings I described above. I feel tired. Weary to the bone. But it showed me how much needs to be done. And how different we all are. It showed me how I can hurt another when I don't think, and that reflects in my body language. It showed the power of a simple hug. It showed me how listening is the best gift you can give another who desperately wants to be heard. And above all, it showed that we are not all at the same place on the journey. We must allow those just starting to ask the questions we have already wrestled with without making them feel judged or patronized. Or wrong. It showed the need for grace.

Thank you to all of you who made the weekend wonderful; to those of you who were willing to dialogue about the hard things. To those of you who were willing to openly and graciously share your faith traditions to help others understand. Thank you to those who were authentic and vulnerable, and didn't have it all figured out. Thank you to those who were willing to still ask questions even after being hurt by responses.

Thanks to Julie for coordinating - (and Sarah.) Thanks to the presenters. Thanks to Sarah - (and her wonderful smile) for leading worship.

I will definitely be going again.


Janice said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm touched by your heart and its good to hear someone else feel all those same things (which we probably all feel but just don't express or don't express the same way). I needed that. :)

anne said...

How wonderful to see your honesty here - I love that. Obviously it was an exhausting, messy time, full of positive spiritual moments as well. Thanks for your transparency, and perhaps next year I will come - though definitely you would be one of the top reasons! :) (Ironically, while you were at the Emerging Women conference, I was at home doing work for Mike!)

Carol said...

Good Morning Karen,

I had no idea what to expect myself having been to large women's conferences of the evangelical bent. This was similar AND different. I would have liked a touch more free time as I felt like I was running from one thing to the next. However, as yourself, it was a good training in listening and learning new ways of experiencing God. I was glad to have my good friend with me, when I felt a bit jumped on at my comments, thoughts, etc. I do remember briefly meeting you and I DO hope that if I made any judgemental comment, or woke you up (don't think I was up that early)...I apologize. May we continue to grown in His grace! Carol